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Sir Roger can still light up the track
9:00am Wednesday 11th July 2012 in Olympic Torch Route
FOUR-minute mile legend Sir Roger Bannister returned to the track that made his name to proudly hold the Olympic Torch.
The 83-year-old attended the Iffley Road running track where he ran the first sub-four minute mile in 1954 on the second day of Oxfordshire’s Olympic Torch celebrations.
To cheers from an invited audience, Sir Roger walked from a podium to pass the lit torch flame to 25-year-old Nicola Byrom at about 7am yesterday.
The Brasenose College student, bearing tabard number 001, then took it around the famous track and on to Iffley Road to a wall of applause and cheers.
Sir Roger said he was “very proud” to return to the Oxford University track, adding: “We had to get up pretty early but it has all been worth it.
“The weather is about the same as it was then. The wind was very strong and I doubted whether it was possible to break the four-minute mile under such conditions.”
He said of the games: “My confidence in them as a force for good remains undimmed.”
Miss Byrom – honoured for setting up a charity to support youngsters with eating disorders – said: “It was amazing, it was incredibly exciting. I thought it would be far more scary.”
Sir Roger and Miss Byrom were joined at the Iffley Road track by London 2012 chairman Lord Coe. And student a capella group Out of the Blue brought a bit of sauciness to the gathering of dignitaries with Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”
Thousands of people rose before work and school yesterday to see the Olympic Torch leave Oxford.
Crowds lined Iffley Road and Donnington Bridge as the torch passed by shortly after 7.30am.
It was then transported out of the city and onwards to South Oxfordshire.
Carrying it for most of the way over the bridge was 40-year-old Brian Staite, a BMW worker from Oxford Road, Abingdon.
He said: “It was a truly amazing experience and just seeing the enthusiasm of everybody around really puts into perspective what the Olympics means to people.”
Mr Staite afterwards took the torch into his children’s school, St Nicolas Primary School in Abingdon, to talk to them about being a torchbearer.
Others got up early to seize their final chance to see the torch before it headed out of the county for good.
Student friends Hannah Berrie, 16, Jordan Bockett, 17, and Jamie O’Connor, 17, were all seeing the torch for the fourth time.
Mr Bockett said: “We saw it in Blackbird Leys, then on Cowley Road and then at South Park. And now we are here this morning.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, we will never get to see it again. So we’re making the most of it.”